Monthly Archives: April 2012

About the People

Taylor Jo Isenberg

In my recent visit to NYC, I spent some time talking to Taylor Jo Isenberg, my incredible teammate from the StartingBloc Case Challenge (Go team!)

Within the first few minutes of meeting Taylor you learn a few things:

1. She talks pretty fast.

2. She knows her stuff – Taylor is absolutely brilliant when it comes to understanding the world of policy and social enterprise, and has a unique perspective on the way these two fields are connected.

3. She ‘s incredibly warm, has a huge smile, and is always happy to help in any way that she can.

4. She loves North Carolina.

As the newly appointed National Director for the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network, Taylor works with students on “results-driven, creative problem solving” in the field of public policy.  Sitting with Taylor in a small coffee shop in NYC, I had my first (somewhat-official) point of connection, as we discussed public policy and its place in the future of our generation.

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Sparks of Inspiration: Summit Series, StartingBloc, and Sarah Kay

Before I begin posting about my travels & exciting thoughts & ideas I’ve come across so far, I would like to give a shout-out to the various influences over the past few months that brought me to this path, and piqued my interest in the concept of connection:

1. Summit Series

As anyone who has attended a Summit Series event knows, these people are basically pro’s when it comes to this whole idea of connection. Not only are they a group of incredible individuals open to connecting with anyone on a personal level, the team at Summit seem to have a magical knack for creating events where attendees feel a deeper connection to each other and their own personal goals than many of them have ever experienced before. Anneke Jong even calls Summit Series “the greatest accelerator and incubator of friendships in the world.”

My relationship with the team at Summit Series began with my reputation as “the girl who just showed up,” after I literally just showed up unannounced on the doorstep of their house in Malibu one day in early January. Without going into full story-telling mode,  I became the girl who interned with them for a week, staffed the Basecamp event in Tahoe, and recently has been working on small projects with them in a few other cities.

In working with the Summit team I not only learned a couple (or maybe more than a couple) of key tips on creating these connections, I also found myself personally feeling connected to everyone around me on a much deeper level, including the team, event staff, and a few attendees, allowing for incredible conversations and an overwhelming amount of  thought-provoking ideas. Still trying to wrap my head around exactly how they do what they do at Summit, but Basecamp was probably the first big event that got me thinking specifically about the connections I make in life, and how meaningful they can be.

2. StartingBloc (LA ’12!)

Oh StartingBloc, words cannot express how much I love you. But seriously, attending the StartingBloc LA ’12 Institute in Santa Monica, California, was definitely one of the most influential events of my life. I have never felt that much love for a group of 90 people before (many of which I have yet to get to know!), and I cannot commend the StartingBloc team enough for creating this incredible space that is the Institute for Social Innovation.

While Summit Series got me a bit hooked on the concept of connecting in theory, StartingBloc provided me with the perfect avenue for action. I connected with people who continue to leave me in awe each and every day with their incredible dreams and the way they just seem to make things happen. After feeling the crazy-connectedness of the amazing class of LA ’12 fellows, and with the advice of a couple of key friends at the Institute, I realized that it was time for me to start a journey to explore these ideas further. Looks like I’m finally following through on my sticky note goal, thanks to all of the fellows who have been holding me accountable!

3. Sarah Kay & Other Reasons I’m obsessed with “Getting to Point B”

  1.  The letter “B” has it’s own degree of importance to me as it has been a part of my nickname growing up, Shira Bee (which has recently resurfaced amongst my close friends).
  2. The concept of going from point A to point B: a journey, an expedition to find an answer. I also love the double meaning of the sound “bee” – both the letter and the verb to “be,” which can bring us into a whole philosophical discussion about the idea of going on a journey to “be,” rather than to reach any particular destination.
  3. The theme/title of one of my favorite TED Talks by Sarah Kay (if you haven’t seen it you should check it out, NOW/right after you finish reading!)

She begins,

“If I should have a daughter, instead of “Mom”, she’s gonna call me “Point B.” Because that way, she knows that no matter what happens, at least she can always find her way to me….”

And that’s exactly it, we can always find a way back to Point B (or “Be”). It’s home base. It’s our history, where we come from and where we’re going all at the same time.

In later posts I will likely go into a bit more detail about Summit Series and StartingBloc individually, as they are clearly relevant to my journey both on a personal level and a more practical one. In the meantime I’m going to move on to some posts about the incredible conversations & interviews I’ve been having lately around the theme of connection. Look out for some LA 12′ fellows, some NYC change-makers, and some great summit staffers to come!

Until next time,


Shira Bee

Categories: Uncategorized, Why Connection? | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

On a personal note, happiness.

In my first post I explained (in a fairly structured way) why I have chosen to embark on this journey of connection. And in the next post I plan to explain more directly where my inspiration came from to focus on this particular path, including the influences of Summit Series and StartingBloc.

But to add a new dimension, on a more personal note, I would like to complete at least one post that expresses why I feel so attached to this journey, and why I feel so strongly that this is exactly where my heart is right now. (Another goal in starting this blog is to increase my own degree of openness and honesty, so here it goes…)

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The First Post: Connection Defined

connection •

We all want it. In fact, I would (tentatively) argue that we NEED it for survival. Life itself can be described in terms of connection; in the way we as human beings connect to other people, to our surroundings (both our immediate environments and the planet as a whole), and to deeper meaning and fulfillment.

So why do deep and meaningful connections so often seem to linger just beyond our reach? Why, in a time when we are more connected than ever, when the internet allows us to connect to points all over the globe and text messages are proposed to increase levels of oxytocin (often acting as a “feel good” hormone), do so many people still feel unconnected and alone?

According to the Webster dictionary, connection may be defined as:

the state of being connected: asa : causal or logical sequence…a political, social, professional, or commercial relationship…a set of persons associated together

Also see the words: link, coherence, continuity, clan, denomination

A clear and concise definition.  But perhaps clear and concise isn’t exactly what we’re looking for? From where I stand now, this definition simply isn’t enough. In fact, I think there is far more to the concept of connection than is captured by any one description available, and I have thus decided to embark on my own journey of connection to explore the way this idea applies to life in all directions.

A good starting point:

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.

― Brené Brown

The goal of this journey is to explore the concept of connection, specifically focusing on how people and organizations create experiences of meaningful connection that lead to happier, more fulfilling lives.

My plan (ambitious as it may be), is to travel around the continent and to meet with people who I believe will provide me with new perspectives and deeper insight. Through these points of personal connection, I will collect knowledge and wisdom about how individuals and organizations employ the various dimensions of connection in their day-to-day lives, specifically in the world of entrepreneurship and social innovation.

Getting to Point B is about getting to a point of true connection, and with that idea in mind I will document the most interesting thoughts and insights that I come across along my journey. Ideally this blog will serve as a method for a two-way conversation, in which I invite YOU to participate in the journey and bring new dimensions to the project.

While I understand that “connection” is a pretty huge concept to tackle (especially as it is such a buzz word in the world of business), I’m excited to see where the challenge might lead. I am already more than humbled by the amount I have learned through conversations about connection with the incredible people I have met thus far.

Ambitious as it may sound, I think the guys at Summit Series are really on to something in taking on the tag-line, “Make No Small Plans.” So here’s to big plans, new adventures, and a world of connections.

And so it begins,


Shira Bee

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